The case for public uprising against TPLF rule in Ethiopia
By Tibebe Samuel Ferenji
nazret.com - “TPLF cannot be reformed”: For quite a while this statement was posted on the page of an opposition website. Since the wave of revolutions hit the Arab world, several despot regimes have been reforming their policies and changing their political discourse. Like the rest of them, the TPLF was given an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and reform itself and its destructive policies. Unfortunately, the above statement hold its own truth- now it is certain that the TPLF cannot be reformed and the regime change has to come through the wave of public protest.
On February 23, 2011, Al Jazeera reported that the captured mercenaries in Libya came from South Africa loaded by Air Bus. Among the mercenaries captured are Ethiopian passport holders. There is no proof, so far, that the Ethiopian government supplied these Ethiopian mercenaries. We probably will never find out if Mr. Zenawi’s hand is in this mess. This could be the Ethiopian version of “Black Ops.” The regime could send its mercenaries to Libya and could deny any involvement and any knowledge if the mercenaries are captured. There are circumstantial evidence and a clear motive for the Zenawi regime to support the crack down in Libya. If the revolution in Libya succeeds, this would be another example indicating that once the people over come their fears, they will go the extra mile to succeed. It would be in the interest of Mr. Zenawi to continue to instill fear in the hearts of the Ethiopian people; and to convey a clear message that the public uprising could be stopped by brut actions.
Gaddafi and Zenawi were close allies during TPLF’s rebellion period; and their friendship continued after the TPLF took power in Ethiopia. When the whole world is condemning Gaddafi for his brutal act against his own people, Meles hasn’t said a word so far. Like Gaddafi, Meles is counting on our ethnic division. Gaddafi’s son made it clear that there are no political parties in Libya and the country is divided by tribe. He vowed that there would be blood shade and civil war among the tribes in Libya. Fortunately for Libya, the people have wised up and have chosen to unite as Libyans.
On February 21, 2011, CNN’s Anderson Copper conducted a very interesting interview with a man named Mustafa. Mustafa said “before I was ashamed to say I am Libyan, my tribe came first; today, I am proud to be a Libyan.” He further stated that “when you talk to people in Benghazi, people say, I am Mohammed, the Libyan, Abdela the Libyan, and so on.” Today in Libya, the nation came before any tribe. To the dismay of Gaddafi and his brutal children, the people of Libya are united and they are showing their pride and determination as Libyans. The other interesting development is the level of defection not only by the Libyan military but also high level Libyan government officials. Libya’s ambassador to the United States, Libya’s deputy representative to the United Nations; Libya’s ambassador to Kuwait, and Libya’s Interior Minster resigned and joined their people to oust Gaddafi and his cohorts from the back of the Libyan people.
It is no secret that Zenawi and his apologists are counting in our ethnic division and hoping that we will never unite. Even the European diplomats have told Routers news agency that the Ethiopian opposition is too divided and too weak to galvanize any street protest. As we have seen time and again, the Westerners are more interested in keeping their puppet in power than any serious concern to the ordinary people. If any thing, the revolution in North Africa has proved to the world how the Westerners are out of touch with the ordinary people; it is clear that they care more about the cheap oil they get than any human dignity. For years, the US and its allies knowingly and willfully allowed the suffering of ordinary people simply to protect their own selfish interest. We need to count on our own people if we want a regime change. This revolution must be coordinated and every effort must be made from in and out side of the country to make it peaceful and nonviolent.
There are reports that this writer has received indicating that SMNE is working at a grass root level in Ethiopia. Let us work with SMNE and provide the necessary support. A movement also has begun on Face book to coordinate the revolution in Ethiopia. All the movements have to be coordinated so we can have an effective uprising that would bring the desired change in our nation. Although there is no evidence, we know deep in our heart that Meles is supporting Gaddafi by supplying him mercenaries. If Meles is capable of such horrendous crime, we know that he will unleash everything he has got on our people to sustain his despotic rule; thus, we must plan everything carefully. I will live the coordination inside the country to SMNE.
What could the rest of us do? Our first task should be to engage in letter writing campaign asking Diplomats and stuffs working for the Ethiopian embassies and consulates offices all over the world to submit mass resignation and disassociate themselves from this brut regime. Next, we should write letters to all foreign embassies and head of States demanding that they severe diplomatic ties with the Ethiopian regime. In the letters we should list the crime committed by the regime and the allegation that Mr. Zenawi is supplying mercenaries to Gaddafi. We should also make a coordinated effort to inform the General US and European population the support their regimes are giving to sustain a brutal regime despotic rule in Ethiopia.
We should also write letters to UN Human Rights Commission demanding an investigation regarding the allegation of Zenawi’s support to Gaddafi. Should the Commission find any evidence, we demand that Zenawi and his associates be charged for crime against humanity. We should stop excluding the military from this movement; we should ask that the military take side with the people. After all, their comrades did not die to crown Mr. Meles to be “a King of Ethiopia.” Their comrades gave their lives for freedom, justice and democracy. We should convey a clear message that their fate is with the rest of Ethiopians. We should also condemn any attempt to lament Tigryans with the regime. We need to recognize that the people of Tigray are also victims of this brutal regime. This is not Tigre V. the rest of us; this is Ethiopians V. Tyranny. We don’t need exclusionist elements in this movement. We have one thing in common, above anything, we all are Ethiopians and act accordingly. We should all respect our religious and ethnic differences and come together as Ethiopians to get rid of the tyrants that are leading us towards destruction.
I would like to ask, all Ethiopian civil servants, particularly diplomats and staff members of Ethiopian embassies and consulates to stand with your people. Begin the revolution by submitting your resignation. Be brave, your country is calling you and your people need you to stand with us. For whatever reason, you have served this evil regime for too long. Before the 11th hour gets here, I respectfully ask you to make history and to say we will no longer serve a brutal regime. I ask you not to continue to stand with mercenaries who have suffocated our people for too long. Make history by saying no and by demanding that the regime in Ethiopia respect human rights and the rights of our people to be governed by their consent. It is time to shift the paradigm and give power to the people. Ladies and gentlemen, the lingering question is, are you with us or with the tyrants? Ask yourselves if you should continue to serve a government that allegedly providing support to a brutal regime that bombs its own people. Ask yourselves if you should continue to serve a regime that is killing our people slow and painful death. Ask yourselves, if you should continue to serve a regime that denied the Ethiopian people their God given rights. Ask yourselves if you should continue to serve a regime that mercilessly massacred, burned, and uprooted its own people. Ask yourselves, when the time comes, if you should stand at the side of the fence with Meles and company or the rest of the Ethiopian people. Ask yourselves, if you should continue to serve a regime that has vowed to “cut the fingers” of its own people. Ladies and gentlemen, the time to vacillate is over, the time to decide in now. RESIGN YOUR POSITION NOW AND BEGIN THE REVOLUTION! Join your people. Enough is Enough!
Racism rears its ugly face in Libya uprising live on TV
By Tedla Asfaw
The ugly face of racism once again show its face on world stage in the week long uprising to topple Muammar Gadaffi. Reports are coming suggesting foreign "mercenaries" fighting for Muammar Gadaffi, most of them black Africans. We watched on Al Jazeera a black man beaten up and dragged to his death. On this confusion many countries, Europeans, Americans and Asians are taking their own citizens out of Libya by air, sea and land. Where is the African Union ?
Most workers are seen crossing Libya to Egypt or Tunisia but we never saw anyone going to South, Niger, Chad or Sudan for that matter to Algeria. Most of the media coverage is on what is going on in the East which is now free from Gadaffi's control. Why not we see black Africans running for their safety ? As we heard it from DW Amharic today most of them are hiding in their houses because it is dangerous for blacks to come out because they are considered by most Libyans as mercenaries.
This indeed is very tragic. Most of Ethiopians are refugees in Libya.Ethiopian women working as maids currently are under the care of the households they live seems they are safe for now. That as well is not guaranteed.Due to public pressure they might be pushed to face street justice including rape..
The passport displayed on Al Jazeera includes many passports carried by Ethiopians. From DW interview we heard most of them were dragged from their apartments beaten up and showed to the world as mercenaries. We also heard many Ethiopians killed by angry mob in Benghazi.
Muammar Gadafi haters are taking revenge on black Africans for money Gadafi threw for many African dictators. The mob attacked and killed many Africans including Ethiopians for being only black. This is not acceptable and we have to alert Human Right, and Amnesty International to investigate all who are paraded as "mercenaries" on Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera should also tone down unconfirmed report and endanger black Africans at this dangerous moment. Ethiopians have no representative government who cares for our refugees. If in fact Ethiopia sends mercenaries Meles Zenawi will never admit it because it will accelerate his own downfall.
However, Ethiopians in Diaspora have responsibility to represent fellow Ethiopians at this deadly moment and rally behind them, they are crying for help. We know no one is in charge of Libya right now.It is street rule until all settled down I am afraid this uprising will take the lives of many black Africans including many Ethiopians. If there are "mercenaries" it seems to me now they are only black Africans, that is absurd. Gadaffi's money can buy a lot of mercenaries, black,white, brown and yellow. Who is now flying Gadaffis plane and helicopters, are they also black Africans ?
Muammar Gadaffi is ready to take Libya down with him, unfortunately, many black Africans who are caught in this mess will go down with him. Their death is only because for being black in a wrong country. The tragedy is most of them left their country for safety and faced detention and racism in Libya.Most who were in detention their situation might even be worst. We have obligation to speak on their behalf by sharing any information we got about them.
The lynching and killing that is going on against black Africans in Libya will sure further divide the Arabs from the rest of Africa. The Arab League should speak against racist killing and accusations.They should sanction and condemn not only Gadaffi but also all who are killing black Africans. President Obama who urged African Union to play its role to stop the killing in Libya should be informed also that black Africans are a target of racist killing in Libya by Libyans mob.
Ethiopia: Meles and Gaddafi-partners in crime
By Yilma Bekele
They say ‘in any relationship, if one party wants a change, that party needs to instigate change.’ The Tunisian people felt change was necessary. The Egyptian people agreed. The Libyans, Yemenis, Algerians, Bahrinians and the Iranians are in the process of adapting the Tunisian model.
They wanted change because hopelessness and apathy were becoming the hallmark of the society their crude leaders were building. Today is like yesterday and tomorrow will be more of the same. They felt that is no way to build a country. They felt change was in order.
Ben Ali of Tunisia abused his people for over twenty years while Mubarak lingered around for thirty years. They both used the formidable power of the state for coercion. Both have no qualms about killing, jailing, bankrupting, exiling those they deemed a threat. As usual the difference between one dictator and another is in the degrees of their insanity and selfishness. If you notice both did not have any problem about sacrificing their close friends when the going got tough.
The Tunisians got the ball rolling. They had a lot of help. The rich experience of the Serbian youth movement called ‘Otpor’ with contribution from the ‘Academy of Change’ from Egypt was instrumental in the Tunisian victory. Their elegant design was based on the teachings of Gandhi, MLK and a generous dose of Gene Sharp.
The Egyptians were relentless in their pursuit of freedom. The chaotic situation we witnessed on television was a well-choreographed play directed behind the scene. The youth leaders were simple and clear on their demands. The ouster of the dictator was the core of their demands. As usual the dictator tried to pacify by promising to loosen his grip. Too little too late should be inscribed on his gravestone. He tried every trick in the book to deflect attention away from his failures. No stone was left unturned to find a way out of this calamity. He dusted old tricks from the attic, borrowed some from fellow tyrants, went along with enablers advice, invented a few himself but nothing seems to work this time.
Two lessons stand out when we look at the ‘uprising’ in both countries. Galvanizing the ‘youth’ was key. Their perseverance when faced by supposedly formidable coercive state power was vital. The fact that the leaders of the movement were those in their thirties was refreshing and a game changer. Both Ben Ali and Mubarak are incapable of understanding the fury of the youth. They were confused and unable to process the information that their subjects were rejecting them and have learnt the language of saying ‘No’ and ‘Enough’.
As an Ethiopian I was awe struck. I laughed at the obstinate Mubarak acting belligerent as he was un robed in public, I cried for those that lost their life for their country, I was filled with joy when I witnessed the raw hunger for freedom and dignity and I fantasized about the tsunami hitting my home land. The last two months have stirred our passion for freedom and self-determination.
So when is ‘people power’ scheduled to arrive in East Africa is a good question. The short answer is now. The freedom train is now boarding. It is up to each individual to board or not. The train will leave soon with or without any one of us. This train requires no fossil fuel. This train runs on raw human energy. It is the ultimate ‘green energy’ train. It is renewable, sustainable and abundant. Our freedom train is equipped with a large sweep in front of it. It sweeps tyrants, dictators and bullies out of sight.
Freedom train is coming to Ethiopia. This is the third appearance of the train in our country. We allowed some undesirable elements to board the last two times. They were able to contaminate the train with their toxic presence and hijack our precious cargo. Our train was derailed.
The Tunisians and Egyptians developed a new vaccine to overcome Fear. Fear is what paralyzes us. Fear is our number one enemy. We spend too much time trying to design a perfect plan. Fear compels us to fret about the little details even before we take the firs step. We worry about the so-called lack of unity, we stress regarding the absence of a strong leader, we exaggerate the might of the enemy and we freeze with a sack full of uncertainty. Fear is our number one enemy.
Did you notice how centralized power was in both Tunisia and Egypt? Did you see both were one man shows? Does this kind of arrangement ring a bell? When we said Meles’s Ethiopia was a one man show people doubted us. Tunisia and Egypt proved dictatorship is a solo affair. You slay the head and the body flails around. The yes people, the sycophants and the spineless around the tyrant burn away like the morning dew.
Today we got a reversal of circumstances. Ato Meles is the one in FEAR. He is the one unable to sleep. The last two months have been a time of round the clock meetings with his fellow criminals. Like Ben Ali and Mubarak he has been pouring over plans on how to instill more fear on his people. He has been working over time to transfer his overwhelming and paralyzing fear on to us. He has sent his Kebele tugs to warn mothers about the fate of their children if they dare to emulate Tunisia or Egypt and now Libya. He has indicated that snipers are stationed on top of every building and his Agazi force is deployed in every intersection. He has promised salary increases. He has invested on more technology to block our ESAT transmission, switched off the Internet and directed his agents in the Diaspora to shout louder and create confusion. He is a picture of a cornered rat.
What is clear is that internally weak regimes like Woyane do not become passive and tolerant when confronted but rather turn to proven method of belligerency. Notice Ben Ali killed a few, Mubarak sent hired tugs and the Monarchs of Bahrain went to the extreme to preserve their lifestyle and ultimately their neck and today tyrant Gaddafi has upped the ante by using helicopters and fighter jets against his own people.
Our tyrant who is in the same league as Gaddafi will not leave silently. Our little tyrant got lots of issues hanging around his neck. Our tyrant has spilled blood. His 2005 murder was duly noted by judge Woldemichael Meshesha. His ruthless act in the Ogaden has been complied and preserved by Human Right Watch. His massacre in Gambella will never be forgotten thanks to my friend Obang.
So one might ask what next? How do we get out of this nightmare? Let us just agree our leader for life does not have any incentive to leave gracefully. On the other hand the society he has built is not sustainable nor is it desirable. Twenty years have proven he is not capable of building a just and free society. No matter what yardstick one uses to measure progress his attempt has been an abject failure. Twenty years into his leadership we are still confronted with over two million in imminent starvation, double digits of unemployment and runaway inflation. The only accomplishment the TPLF regime boasts of is real estate development, even that is the result of Diaspora investment not home grown achievement.
What is needed today is a day, a week, and a month of ‘rage’ against Woyane brutality. Who better to do that than our young ones? Who better to lead us than our young and smart children? Our young people have a glorious history to fall back on. The young people of Ethiopia have always been instruments of change. I know the shoes left behind by the University and high school students of the 60’s and 70’s is hard to fill.
Despite the over forty years of anarchy and destruction our youth have stayed focused. Their strength is displayed all around us. The fact they have survived against all odds despite Woyane bullying is testimonial to their resiliency. All you have to do is look at those that have stayed at home. They wake up everyday in that hostile and hopeless Woyane environment but still manage to eek out a living. They leave no stone unturned in their attempt to make sense of a life that shows no promise of a better tomorrow.
We should also celebrate the determination of those that leave their family and their country to find a better life. How could we forget those that cross the shark infested waters to reach Yemen or those that drown in the process? We will always remember those that cross our frontiers in their trek to unknown destinations. They cross the jungles of Africa, find a miraculous way to fly to South America and cross the US borders by foot, containers trucks and any means to find a better life. Our young ones have been tested by Woyane caused calamity and emerged stronger and wiser.
It is part of Woyane strategy to marginalize the youth by subscribing and encouraging a culture of apathy. The rise in consumption of Khat, a known narcotic and importation of degenerate culture is part of Woyane’s plan to contaminate our culture and identity. The Ethiopian youth have to overcome that. Rest assured our young ones are strong. Twenty years of organized propaganda to belittle our history, revise our glorious past, turn one ethnic against another have fallen on deaf ears.
Those of us in the Diaspora will continue our cry on behalf of our people that are silenced by the illegal regime. We will march, sign petitions, contribute money and work with Senators and Representatives to force the terrorist regime to relinquish power peacefully.
We urge the opposition to refrain from unilateral negotiations with the illegal regime. We want to put the opposition on notice that listening to the foreign diplomats and sitting down with the murderer regime is not part of our strategy to get rid of this cancer imposed on us. If the opposition wants to be included in this journey of liberation we are embarking, we hope they will read the heartbeat of our people and include the young people in their delebrations. If the opposition party’s want respect from us then we expect that they will keep in mind that our respect is earned. It is not a right but a privilege. We hope the debacle of unilateral action like the recent election will not be repeated.
We are certain Ato Meles will follow the footsteps of Gaddafi and unleash unprecedented terror on our people. He will use ethnic divide, religious divide any and all divisive issues to confuse and set us up against each other. We are hopeful that we have learned a lesson from our mistakes in the past and refrain from cannibalizing each other but rather aim our collective fury at the evil regime.
Yes we can, yes we will Ethiopia will be free, that no one can change.
Ethiopia - Bereket Simon is A Big Fat Idiot !!!
Bereket Simon, TPLF's Chief Propaganda Minister, is one of the most hated man in Ethiopia. In 2005, he infamously told Reuters news agency that "Anyone who incites violence, other than those elected, will have to face the law." He is Meles Zenawi's best man, who is always there to defend the regime and blatantly lie. He has been compared to Baghdad Bob, the former Iraqi Minister of DisInformation.
In an interview with Capital newspaper, Bereket Simon said Egypt and Tunisian style revolt will not happen in Ethiopia, because, get this, "the people in Egypt and Tunisia are desperate with no where to go, but the people of Ethiopia enjoy a higher economic growth and brighter future." Ethiopia is a dirt poor country which still can not feed its own people, yet Bereket claims that its people have a brighter future than those in rich Tunisia. What will he make of Bahrain that commands a GDP per capita of $28,240?
Here is what he told Capital,
"there is no chance for a public uprising in Ethiopia as the predominately factor for such uprising in Egypt and Tunisia were middle income states that no longer could drive through economic growth, and failed to provide enough jobs and equitable wealth distribution creating desperation among the public hardly resembles Ethiopia.
“There [where popular revolts happen] are desperate people, people who have nowhere to turn to. Our people are not desperate, here we have a public that has seen hope, a public that enjoys a glimmer of hope more than ever due to the recent years’ economic growth and transformation,”
Out of Touch in the Horn of Africa?
By Alemayehu G. Mariam
The Berlin Conference of 2009
In 1884, the Berlin Conference was convened by the European imperial powers to carve out colonial territories in Africa. It was called the "Scramble for Africa".
In 2009, another Berlin Conference was convened by a high level group of diplomats (referring to themselves as the "partners") from the U.S. and several European countries to hammer out an "agreement" on what to do (and not do) in the Horn of Africa.
According to a recently released Wikileaks cablegram, with respect to Ethiopia, the partners "agreed [on] Ethiopia's key role in the region" and "the need to support and observe its May 2010 elections." They acknowledged "Meles as a regional leader, pointing out he would represent Africa on climate change in Copenhagen." They agreed Meles is "intent on retaining power" and that he is "a guy you can do business with". They expressed doubts about "being associated with a likely imperfect process" that could result from the May 2010 elections (which subsequently produced a 99.6 percent win for Meles' party), but "they nonetheless agreed on the importance of international involvement in the elections."
The German and French partners debated "Ethiopia's economic situation, namely [the] hard currency and the poor investment climate." The German diplomat suggested that Ethiopia's economic problems could be traced to "Meles' poor understanding of economics". The French diplomat argued that "Meles actually had a good understanding of economics, but was hampered by his ideological beliefs." In a single sentence, out of the blue, the partners ganged up and whipsawed the entire Ethiopian opposition: "The [Ethiopian] political opposition is weak, disunited, and out of touch with the average Ethiopian, partners agreed."
For quite some time, foreign journalists have been reporting wholly disparaging and categorically dismissive remarks about Ethiopia's opposition by anonymous Western diplomats. In February 2010, I wrote a commentary decrying and protesting the cowardly and scandalous statements issued by Western diplomats hiding behind the veil of journalistic anonymity. I complained that the derisive characterizations were not only unfair, inaccurate and self-serving, but also dispiriting, disheartening and demeaning of Ethiopia's besieged opposition. It is gratifying to finally put faces to the surly anonymous lips.
Is the Ethiopian political opposition "weak and disunited"?
It is true that the Ethiopian "political opposition is weak and disunited", an issue I have addressed on previous occasions. But Western governments seem to be conveniently oblivious of the reasons for the disarray in the opposition. For two decades, Meles Zenawi and his regime have done everything in their power to keep the opposition divided, defeated, discombobulated and dysfunctional. Zenawi has pursued the opposition relentlessly often comparing them to Rwanda's interhamwe (meaning "those who stand/work/fight/attack together") genociders. In 2005, he rounded up almost all of the major opposition political and civic leaders, human rights advocates, journalists and dissidents in the country and jailed them for nearly two years on charges of genocide, among many others. Zenawi's own Inquiry Commission has documented that hundreds of peaceful opposition demonstrators were massacred in the streets and over thirty thousand suspected opposition members jailed in the aftermath of the May 2005 elections. In 2008, Zenawi jailed Birtukan Midekssa, the first female opposition political party leader in Ethiopian history, on the ridiculous charge of "denying a pardon". He put her in solitary confinement and categorically and absolutely ruled out any possibility of freedom for her declaring: "There will never be an agreement with anybody to release Birtukan. Ever. Full stop. That's a dead issue." (He let go in October 2010.)
Zenawi has demonized a major opposition group as a "terrorist" organization bent on "creating a rift between the government and the people of Oromiya." In his pursuit of the opposition, he has "usedextreme force trapping the civilian population between the insurgents and the government forces." He put on trial and sentenced to death various alleged "members" of Ginbot 7 Movement, and contemptuously described the Movement as an organization of "amateur part-time terrorists". He has intimidated and verbally shredded his former comrade-in-arms who have stood with the opposition and rhetorically clobbered his critics as "muckrakers," "mud dwellers", "sooty," "sleazy," "pompous egotists" and good-for-nothing "chaff" and "husk." He even claimed the opposition was "dirtying up the people like themselves." Opposition parliamentarians are routinely humiliated in public and treated like delinquent children. In parliamentary exchanges, they are mocked for their pronunciation of English words.
When opposition leaders went on the campaign trial in 2010, they were prevented from meeting with voters in their districts as former president Dr. Negasso Gidada and others have documented. Opposition political and civic leaders and dissidents are kept under 24-hour surveillance, and the people they meet are intimidated and harassed. The culture of fear that permeates every aspect of society is reinforced by a structure of repression that is vertically integrated from the very top to the local (kebele) level making peaceful opposition impossible. Unless one is a member of the ruling party, the chances of higher education, employment and other privileges are next to nil. By becoming part of the opposition, the average and not-so-average Ethiopian invites political persecution, economic hardship and social isolation. Under such circumstances, is it any wonder that the Ethiopian opposition is weak and disunited? Is it not ironic that Western donors are unwilling to help the opposition in any way (including giving moral support) yet skulk behind journalistic anonymity to heap dismissive contempt on them while turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to flagrant abuses of human rights and misuse of their aid money to buy votes?
Is the Ethiopian opposition "out of touch with the average Ethiopian"?
The gratuitous backhanded slap on the face of the Ethiopian opposition as "out of touch with the average Ethiopian" has caused disappointment among some political and civic leaders. But the evidence shows that the Western "partners" may actually be right! For instance, Birtukan Midekssa was completely out of touch with any Ethiopian, except her mother and young daughter, for nearly two years. She was spending time in solitary confinement in Kality prison, a/k/a Kality Hilton, feasting on gourmet food and "putting on weight", according to one highly placed source. Following the May 2005 elections, for almost two years, nearly all of the country's opposition party leaders, leading journalists, human rights activists and civic society advocates were completely out of touch with any Ethiopian, except their jailors, at the same Kality Hilton. As to opposition party members and dissidents, tens of thousands of them have completely disappeared from the face of the earth over the past decade alone and are out of touch with anyone. Tens of thousands more are held incommunicado as political prisoners in secret jails. In light of this evidence, could it be denied that the Ethiopian opposition is completely out of touch with the average and not-so-average Ethiopian?
Is the ruling regime in touch with the average Ethiopian?
One would have to answer that question in the affirmative. The whole idea of a police state is to make sure that the rulers stay in very close touch with the average citizen. Zenawi's regime stays in close touch with the average Ethiopian using the services of hundreds of thousands of secret police operatives and informants spying on each individual. Dr. Gidada has documented one of the common ways the regime stays in extremely close touch with the people:
The police and security offices and personnel collect information on each household through other means. One of these methods involves the use of organizations or structures called "shane", which in Oromo means "the five". Five households are grouped together under a leader who has the job of collecting information on the five households... The security chief passes the information he collected to his chief in the higher administrative organs in the Qabale, who in turn informs the Woreda police and security office. Each household is required to report on guests and visitors, the reasons for their visits, their length of stay, what they said and did and activities they engaged in. ... The OPDO/EPRDF runs mass associations (women, youth and micro-credit groups) and party cells ("fathers", "mothers" and "youth"). The party cells in the schools, health institutions and religious institutions also serve the same purpose....
The average and not-so-average Ethiopian looking for a government job or applying for a business license needs to be in close touch with the powers that be to get one. The regime is so in touch with the average and not-so-average Ethiopian that they want them to hear only what they have to say. They have jammed the transmissions of the Voice of America, opposition satellite broadcasts and filtered out websites of regime critics.
Are the Western donors "in touch with the average Ethiopian"?
Western donors are very much in touch with the average Ethiopian, that is in the same way as they were in touch with the average Tunisian, Egyptian, Yemeni, Bahraini and so on. They were so in touch with the average citizens of these countries that they anticipated and correctly predicted the recent popular uprisings. That was the reason President Obama "applauded" the people for throwing Ben Ali out of Tunisia. The U.S. was so in touch with the realities of the average Egyptian over the past 30 years that President Obama and his foreign policy team froze in stunned silence, flat-footed and twiddling their thumbs and scratching their heads for days before staking out a position on the popular uprising. They could not bring themselves to use the "D" words (dictator, democracy) to describe events in Egypt. Western governments were also very much in touch with Hosni Mubarak floating his ship of state on an ocean of corruption and repression with billions of dollars in military and economic aid. They are very much in touch with Zenawi; after all he is the "guy you can do business with," a partner. Truth be told, they have done tons of business with him over the past 20 years, no less than $26 billion!
Who is "the average Ethiopian"?
Who is the "average Ethiopian" whose contact is so highly prized and coveted? It seems s/he has an average life expectancy at birth of less than 45 years. S/he lives on less than $USD 1 per day. S/he is engaged in subsistence agriculture eking out a living. S/he survives on a daily intake of 800 calories (starvation level). S/he can neither read nor write. If s/he is sick, she has a 1 chance in 39,772 persons to see a doctor, 1 in 828,000 to see a dentist, 1 in 4,985 chance to see a nurse. She has little or no access to family planning services, reproductive health and emergency obstetric services and suffers from high maternal mortality during childbirth. She is a victim of gender discrimination, domestic violence and female genital mutilation. She has fewer employment and educational opportunities than the "average" man and is not paid equal pay for equal work. S/he is likely to die from malaria and other preventable infectious diseases, severe shortages of clean water and poor sanitation. The "average" Ethiopian youth is undereducated, underemployed and underappreciated with little opportunity for social mobility or economic self-sufficiency. The "average" urban adolescent is unemployed and a drop out from school. S/he is frustrated and in despair of his/her future and is likely to engage in a fatal pattern of risky behaviors including drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse, crime and delinquency and sexual activity which exposes him/her to a risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. The "average" child has a high likelihood of being orphaned and die from malnutrition and is vulnerable to all forms of exploitation, including child labor and sexual. So, who really is in touch with the "average Ethiopian"!?!
Be In Touch With the Youth
Regardless of how the Western donors define the "average Ethiopian", the fact is that s/he is a young person. An estimated 67 percent of the population is under the age of 30, of which 43 percent is below the age of 15. Two of history's evil men understood the importance of staying in touch with the youth population. Vladmir Lenin, the founder of the totalitarian Soviet state said, "Give me just one generation of youth, and I'll transform the whole world." His counterpart in the Third Reich said, "he alone, who owns the youth, gains the future." Both failed because they wanted to use the youths as cannon fodder for their warped vision of world domination. Africa's dictators have ignored and neglected the youths and consigned them to a life of poverty and despair. They have tried to put in the service of their dictatorial rule Africa's best and brightest. They too will fail.
The demographic data on Africa's youth is frightening. As Africa urbanizes rapidly and its population population continues to grow uncontrollably (expected to increase from 294 million to 742 million between 2000 and 2030), the number of young people trapped in poverty, hungry and angry will multiply by the tens of millions per year. Frustrated, desperate and denied political space, they will become the powder keg that will implode African societies. African dictators and their Western partners continue to delude themselves into believing that the youth will continue to passively accept and tolerate corruption, repression, abuse of power and denial of basic human rights. But a new generation of African youths is rising up declaring: "Enough is Enough!"
Revolutionary Democracy Meets "Facebook" Democracy in Ethiopia
If Tunisia and Egypt are an indication, Zenawi's vision of revolutionary democracy will in due course collide with the "Facebook" democracy (tech savvy young people creating a functioning civic community using information technology) taking over Africa's youth. Zenawi wrote:
When Revolutionary Democracy permeates the entire society, individuals will start to think alike and all persons will cease having their own independent outlook. In this order, individual thinking becomes simply part of collective thinking because the individual will not be in a position to reflect on concepts that have not been prescribed by Revolutionary Democracy.
This is not democracy (revolutionary or reactionary). In the old days, such "democracy" was called fascism where the national leader (Der Fuhrer) sought to create "organic unity" of the body politic by imposing upon the people uniformity of thought and action through violence, legal compulsion and intense social pressure. It is no longer possible to brainwash, mind control and indoctrinate impressionable young people with meaningless ideology as though they are helpless and fatuous members of a weird religious cult. The days of programming human beings as jackbooted robots marching to the order of "Der Fuhrer" are long gone.
"Facebook" democrats reject any totalitarian notions of "individual thinking becoming part of collective thinking". They do not need a single mind, a single party, a single operating system to do the thinking for them. Africa's youths have their own unique outlook and independent voice on their present circumstances and their future. History shows that every regime that has sought to force unanimity of opinion and belief among its citizens has found the unanimity of the graveyard. When free speech, free press and the rule of law permeate society, and human rights and the voices of the people are respected and protected, citizens will experience dignity and self-respect and muster the courage and determination to forge their own destinies.
There are enough young Africans with the idealism, creativity, knowledge, technical ability and genius to transform the old fear-ridden Africa into their own brave new Africa. In this effort, they do not need the guiding hands or the misguided ideas of ideologues from a bygone era. Western partners have the choice of supporting a brave new Africa of young people on the march or they can continue their "partnership" in the crime of democricide with the old "stable" police states careening to the dustbin of history. With the recent departure of two of the most powerful and entrenched police chiefs, and others teetering, the West may not be able to shoehorn the youths of (the Horn of) Africa into silence and submission from boardrooms in Berlin, Washington, London, Rome, Paris...
Power to Africa's Youths!
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